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by Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol
Chairman, Mindanao Development Authority

One will never appreciate the beauty and the vast potentials of Olutanga Island unless he ventures into what was once a feared Pirates' lair and kidnapers hiding place.

I travelled to Olutanga Island on Sept. 1 last year taking a 3-hour sea journey using a "Kumpit" from Pitogo, Zamboanga del Sur.

After an evening face-to-face meeting with the local leaders and the people to talk about their fears and their dreams, I stayed overnight.

The following morning, Olutanga Mayor Arthur Ruste Sr. brought me on a boat ride to two smaller islands - Pulo Mabaw (Islet with Shallow Waters) and Pulo Lawom (Islet with Deep Waters).

Both could be divers' dreamed paradise where they could find Lobsters and other high value fish in pristine corals with blue waters.

I fell in love with Olutanga and since then, I have been there three times.

Tomorrow will be my fourth engagement with the leaders and stakeholders of the three towns in the island - Olutanga, Talusan and Mabuhay.

For two days, the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) will guide them in crafting a Master Plan which would transform the Island into a tourism and agri-aqua production area.

Included in the Master Plan would be security strategies to erase its image as a Pirates' Lair.

After Olutanga, MinDA will move to another area in a tactical and strategic move to "liberate" people from fear and poverty.

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